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De Palma (7/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 111 minutes

Not for children.

If you ever wonder why movies are too long, listen to a director talk about himself for almost two hours, which is what you do in this documentary about filmmaker Brian De Palma. His is the only voice you hear and it is a one shot of him talking about himself for almost half the movie.

Oh, there are clips of his films, but nobody is interviewed; nobody tells what it was like to be directed by him; nobody tells what it was like to collaborate with him. This is Brian De Palma on Brian De Palma. His 20 best-known films  average just under two hours, like this film. Cut it by a half hour and youíd have enough.

What he says is pretty interesting because he tells somewhat of what itís like to put a film together and explains some of the conflicts. Also shown are some of his more gory scenes. He claims to be the only person who follows in the footsteps of Alfred Hitchcock, but Hitch never showed graphic violence, always leaving it to the viewersí imagination. Even the classic shower scene where Janet Leigh gets knifed in Psycho, Hitch never shows the knife entering the body.

Thatís what De Palma doesnít get. And itís what most of todayís shock directors donít get. Movies are a medium of imagination. The less you actually see and the more you actually think, the better. Seeing intercourse doesnít make a movie sexier. Itís what you imagine they are doing or are about to do, or just did, that make a movie fascinating. The same is true for violence. Talented directors donít show the actual damage thatís being done; they leave it to the imagination.

De Palma shows everything in raw detail (except the chain saw scene in Scarface, where he never shows the saw cutting skin).